Coffee & Tea Report: Java Jamboree

By David Gill

Coffee and tea remain on trend with consumers, as evidenced by many of the new products that made their bow during last month's International Home + Housewares Show.

To judge from these new products, sleek and innovative designs that include bright colors, and raising the bar on technology are key directions taken by vendors.

Combine design and convenience, throw in a dash of technology and you have the key selling points for two espresso-maker introductions from Philips Saeco (last month marked the first Housewares Show for Saeco under its new parent, Philips). The company launched two espresso makers, the Exprelia and the Syntia Cappuccino, both featuring sleek designs and state-of-the-art technology.

Design is one of the main focuses for these two machines, said Laura Hanna, marketing manager for housewares at Philips Saeco. "You need to keep them looking nice and to fit into the counter area," Hanna said. "With the state of the economy, more and more people want all the options in their coffeemakers rather than spending $5 a day at Starbucks. They'll invest in a machine that will do it all for them."

Sleek design in a variety of colors, small footprints and versatility characterized the line of pump-driven espresso makers De'Longhi USA launched in its partnership with Nescafe. These products use Nescafe's Dolce Gusto single-serve coffee pod and produce beverages other than espresso, such as cappuccinos, lattes, hot chocolate and even iced beverages.

The line furthers De'Longhi's relationship with Nescafe, which began three years ago. The brewers, priced from $99 to $199, will reach stores by Sept. 1.

Another product based on color is Bodum's Ibis electric kettle. "We introduced many colors last year, and now we see our competitors doing the same," said Thomas Perez, president of Bodum USA. "We don't follow any trend. That is easy and dull. Instead, we try to steer the trend and category profile."

Color has become a natural for coffeemakers and tea makers. Such a product "has to reach the consumer, be aesthetically eye-catching," said Magali Pelletier, product development manager of the coffee/tea category for Trudeau. "A range of colorful raspberry, purple or green colors as well as more neutral, earthy warm colors are always interesting for these products."

On the operational front, three product debuts by Jura-Capresso centered on technology and versatility. Under the Capresso brand, the EN 9-One Touch is the first in this brand to produce cappuccinos, lattes and macchiatos with one touch of a button. Also with Capresso, the H2O Pro Kettle is engineered to provide 11 temperatures for water, ranging from 110 degrees to 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

Functional features of this sort are huge with consumers, said David Shull, vice president of sales for Jura-Capresso. "We get great feedback from consumers on removable and functional features," Shull said. "Also, we get good mileage from add-on features such as frothers. And the great thing about these is that they are a separate, add-on sale for the retailer."

The Jura brand added the J9 espresso maker, with touch-screen settings and a rotary dial that sets the type of beverage. Once the beverage is set, all the user needs to do is press a button on top to begin brewing. "The rotary dial with the different beverage varieties gives us the upper hand in educating consumers about different beverages," Shull said.

In what may turn out to be a technological coup, the Krups brand of Groupe SEB showcased the Cup-on-Request coffeemaker. This product combines a 12-cup brewer with single-serve technology. The user can push a button on its control panel to dispense one cup at a time, thus making the Cup-on-Request a single-serve machine without the pods.

The Cup-on-Request also has Keep Warm technology, which keeps the coffee's temperature constant, and maintains the temperature for four hours. It also includes the ability to program the brew time, and "large" and "small" buttons for the cup size.

The new product was part of a massive launch of 35 coffeemakers by the Krups brand at the show. Michele Lupton, director of marketing communications for Groupe SEB USA, said these launches are part of the parent company's strategy to reinvigorate the Krups brand.

Newness wasn't confined to technology at the show; some of it took the form of entries into new categories. Hutzler's Gourmac division made its first foray into the tea category this show, with its Tea Infuser.

"We noticed a growing trend and had a design idea," said Monique Haas, marketing director, Hutzler Manufacturing Co. "More people seem to be enjoying loose teas and need an infuser to hold them. Our design is a little less traditional than what is out there and goes along with our typical use of bright fun-loving colors and an affordable price point."

Oxo, on the other hand, took its initial step into coffee making, a natural transition with the travel mugs and tea kettles already in its line. It now offers French presses in four- and eight-cup sizes and in stainless steel to retain heat.

Gibson, which holds the license with Mr. Coffee, further expanded its assortment of coffee and tea items at the show. This business has continued to grow for the company, according to Tina Perez, director of marketing, who described it as "a skyrocketing category. It is now a significant portion of our business."-Andrea Lillo and Allison Zisko contributed to this report

HFN Staff | News & Commentary

HFN provides detailed information on the key home classifications: Housewares, Tabletop, Floor Covering & Rugs, Furniture, Home Textiles, Lighting, Home Decor, Mattresses & Bedding, Gifts, Major Appliances and Consumer Electronics as well as Business, Finance and Retail.


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